God’s Daily Reflection and Prayer.
Whose Honor Matters?
by Mark D. Roberts
READ Isaiah 22:1-25
This is what the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, said to me: “Confront Shebna, the palace administrator, and give him this message:
“Who do you think you are,
and what are you doing here,
building a beautiful tomb for yourself—
a monument high up in the rock?”
Shebna was a “palace administrator” in Jerusalem whom the Lord singled out for rebuke through Isaiah. We don’t know all of Shebna’s faults, though they must have been many, given the fact that he was “a disgrace to [his] master” (v. 18). In particular, Shebna was preoccupied with his own legacy and honor, building for himself a lavish and prominent tomb. Apparently he had used his position in the government to become wealthy so that he might promote himself, both in life and in death. For such self-centeredness, God promised to take away his position of authority, thus ending Shebna’s career in disgrace.
Shebna serves as a powerful reminder of the folly of seeking our own honor above that of the Lord. It’s natural for us to want others to think well of us, and to an extent this is consistent with our Christian discipleship (for example, 1 Tim. 3:2). But if we become preoccupied with our own glory, we dishonor the Lord and risk our own demotion. As Prov. 16:18 reminds us, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” Shebna’s sad life illustrates this proverb perfectly.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you ever tempted to put your honor above God’s glory? When? Why? Are you ever preoccupied with your legacy, rather than being preoccupied with the work of God’s kingdom?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, the story of Shebna encourages me to examine my motivations and desires. Am I like Shebna? Am I more eager to ensure my good reputation than to advance your kingdom? Does my passion for your glory exceed my desire for people to think I’m good? Am I building a “tomb” for myself, rather than offering myself as a living sacrifice to you?
Help me, dear Lord, to care so much about you, your work, and your glory that my
self-centeredness dwindles. May I live my life in the freedom that comes from
serving you completely. At the end of my days, may you be the one who receives the glory for my life. May it be obvious to all that you did a great work in me, not
that I was great. Amen.
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